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What is Bohemian Glass?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 28 March 2014
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Bohemian glass is a type of art glass which originates in the Czech Republic, in the region known as Bohemia. Neighboring Silesia also produces glass in the Bohemian style. At one time, Bohemian glass was world-renowned, and rightly so, because it was of extremely high quality. Today, many glassworks in the Czech Republic produce Bohemian glass, making replicas of older glass pieces along with more modern works, and many of them capitalize on the reputation of Bohemian glass.

This region of Europe has been famous for glass production since the 13th century, and the height of Bohemian glass production was achieved in the 17th and 18th centuries. Bohemia was uniquely suited to glass production due to abundant natural resources and talented artisans who pushed the boundaries of glass production to produce very high-quality decorative glass. Many glassworking techniques developed in Bohemia continue to be used today.

Typically, Bohemian glass is very colorful, and often richly decorated. It may be faceted, engraved, etched, or painted, and many works of Bohemian glass are also very thin and delicate, expressing the skills of the artisan. The fine color and delicacy of Bohemian glass made it a prized artifact when other glassworks were still struggling to produce cumbersome, dense pieces, establishing a strong reputation for Bohemian glassmakers which endures to this day.

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One of the most famous glass products of Bohemia is lead crystal, heavy glass which is faceted to create extra sparkle. Lead crystal continues to be a major export of the region, along with reverse painted glass, and enameled glass. The 19th century also saw the development of mass production techniques in the region, allowing artisans to export less expensive decorative glass to other regions for sale among the lower classes.

People can purchase a wide assortment of Bohemian glass items from glass dealers, department stores, and art stores, and antique Bohemian glass can be found in many antique shops. As when pursuing any sort of antique, Bohemian glass should be purchased with care, as replicas are far less valuable. It helps to use an extensive guidebook which discusses glass manufacturers and styles to ensure that you are not bilked, and it can also be a good idea to take someone with glass identification experience along on a glass hunting trip.

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